Advocate brokers lower IPL rate hike for car-sharing service

Indianapolis Power & Light Co. customers would see less of a rate hike for an electric car-sharing program under a settlement agreement negotiated by the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.

The cost per month for a typical residence would be 28 cents, rather than 44 cents, the OUCC said in a press release about the settlement agreement, filed Thursday with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

IPL is seeking regulators’ permission to bill ratepayers for $16 million in costs associated with extending lines and installing charging stations for a proposed car-sharing service by BlueIndy, a subsidiary of France-based Bollore Group.

BlueIndy has an exclusive agreement with the city of Indianapolis to provide the car-sharing service, utilizing on-street parking spaces. Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler opposed the rate hike, saying it fell outside the scope of costs that state law allows IPL to charge to ratepayers.

“We have taken into account the risks of litigation and the concessions the OUCC was able to obtain for the benefit of IPL ratepayers from the city and IPL following intensive negotiations,” Stippler said Thursday in a prepared statement.

Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, said his group continues to oppose allowing IPL to bill its customers for a service that will be used by a relative few.

“This settlement does not change the fact that the captive ratepayers of IPL are being forced to subsidize a French multibillion-dollar corporation for a project that has nothing to do with providing electric service,” Olson said.

The OUCC settlement includes several other concessions:

— The city and IPL would be required to put any revenue received through a profit-sharing agreement with BlueIndy toward further mitigating the rate increase.

— IPL customers who buy annual passes for BlueIndy’s service within the first six months of its launch would receive two free months, a $26 value.

— IPL agreed to launch a $1.5 million energy-efficient street lighting program. The utility would be allowed to recover those costs from its customers, but only through a base-rate case, in which regulators would be reviewing all of IPL’s costs.

— The city will seek grant funds and corporate donations for rate mitigation.

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